Have plenty of good food on hand for Labor Day weekend

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By Morgan Bryce

Associate Editor

Although the temperatures will continue to soar for weeks longer, Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer. In our area, it also heralds in an exciting football season with the Auburn Tigers’ first game this weekend against Washington. Whether you are having friends over to watch the game or hosting an end of summer cookout, plan on serving plenty of good food.

Labor Day is observed the first Monday in September. The holiday was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day is a time set aside to pay tribute to American workers.

Whether you are home or at the lake this weekend, prepare tasty dishes to savor with family and friends. Offer a variety of appetizers, especially for watching football games. Arrange dishes in varying heights for an attractive presentation.

The Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Torta can be prepared a day or two ahead. It is good made with cream cheese, goat cheese or a combination of both, which has become my favorite. You can roast your own peppers or use ones in a jar. Be sure to pat the jarred ones on paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible.

To roast your own peppers, simply place them on a foil lined broiler pan and roast on each side until black. Remove from oven and carefully pull the foil up around the peppers to seal. Let them sit a few minutes. Then, open the foil and rub the peppers to remove the blackened skin. Remove the seeds and pat peppers dry.

The second layer of filling can be olive tapenade or basil pesto (from a jar or make your own) or sun-dried tomatoes. Sometimes I will make four layers instead of three and use red peppers, pesto and olive tapenade. The recipe is easy to adapt.

Mold the torta in a small springform, round bowl or loaf pan lined with plastic wrap or foil. When ready to serve, simply lift the plastic wrap or foil and place on a serving dish. Garnish with strips of roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with crostini, slices of toasted French bread, or favorite crackers.

Among the barbecue recipes are two recipes for chicken. One can be prepared on the grill and the other in the oven if you don’t have a grill. Either barbecue chicken recipe would pair well with Moriah Earnest’s Bacon Potato Salad.

Another good choice for the weekend is Brenda Goodman’s Easy Grilled Eye of Round Roast. It will feed a crowd, and leftovers make delicious sandwiches.

Serve the roast with Denise Simmons’ easy Potatoes on the Grill, and cap the evening on a refreshing note with Brenda’s Layered Lemon Dessert or Carol Pridgen’s Strawberry Shortcake Trifle. Both desserts can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Look over the following recipes for making your own menus.

Relax over the weekend with family and friends, enjoying great fellowship and good food.

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Torta
Three 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened, mild goat cheese or a combination of both
Fresh roasted red peppers or bottled roasted peppers
1 jar olive tapenade, basil pesto or sun-dried tomatoes
Crostini or crackers
In a small springform or loaf pan lined with plastic wrap or foil, layer one-third of cheese. Top with roasted peppers (if using ones from a jar, be sure to pat them dry on paper towels.
Place another layer of cheese. Top with olive tapenade, pesto or tomatoes. Add last layer of cheese. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Pull the plastic wrap or foil up to lift the torta. Place on a serving dish.
Garnish with strips of roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomatoes. Chill. Unmold and serve with crostini or crackers.

Pesto Bruschetta
Pepe Cope
Baguette
Olive oil
Basil pesto, freshly made or from jar
Sun dried tomatoes
Parmesan cheese
Thinly slice half of baguette; brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until just crispy at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
Spoon pesto on each slice. Top with chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

Grilled Shrimp Appetizer
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. large shrimp with tails, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
Bamboo skewers
Wipe down grill rack with oiled paper towel to create a nonstick surface. Combine garlic and oil. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Place on skewers and grill, basting with olive oil mixture. Grill 1½ minutes on each side.

Roasted Red Potato Bites
Lynn Carter
Easy to double or triple
12 small red potatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup minced green onions
2 tsp. dried basil
Rub potatoes with olive oil and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cut in half crosswise and scoop out pulp, leaving a shell to fill later, reserve pulp.  Mix pulp and next 5 ingredients.  Spoon or pipe mixture into each shell.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet.   Broil 5 inches from the heat for 3-5 minutes.  Serve warm.
Can be made two days ahead and refrigerated.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes then broil as directed.
Pimento Cheese Spread
Carole Harrison
Two 8 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or use finely shredded cheese in bags)
4 oz. jar diced pimientos, undrained
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup chopped toasted pecans (omit if making sandwiches)
1/8 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. hot sauce
Combine ingredients; cover and chill two hours. Serve with crackers or sliced fruit. Great with Keebler Cornbread crackers.

Cheese Cookies
Rose Ann Denson
2 cups (8 oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup butter or oleo, softened
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup self-rising flour
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Pecan halves
Combine cheese and butter in mixing bowl on medium speed of mixer. Add flour, mustard and hot sauce. Add Rice Krispies and stir in GENTLY; otherwise they won’t be crisp. Place by spoonfuls on baking sheet. Press down, using a fork. Top each with pecan half. Bake 350 for 15 minutes.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken
1 or 2 chickens, cut-up
Marinade:
1 cup oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. oregano, optional
1 minced garlic clove
Combine ingredients and marinate chicken pieces overnight in refrigerator.
Sauce
½ cup butter
½ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco
1 tsp. salt
Combine sauce ingredients. Place chicken and grill and brush several times with sauce until chicken is cooked.

Oven Barbecued Chicken
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. pepper
3 lb. cut-up chicken
¼ cup butter, softened
Combine everything except chicken and butter. Pat chicken dry. Rub chicken with butter and place in shallow roasting pan. Cover each chicken piece with sauce.
Bake slowly at 300 degrees for one and a half hours, basting occasionally. If desired, remove leftover chicken from bone and mix with the sauce for sandwiches.
Easy Grilled Eye of Round Roast
Brenda Goodman
Eye of round roast
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
l/2 tsp. salt
l tsp. coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp. sesame seeds
l tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 sticks butter
Sprinkle garlic powder and salt over butter and let sit at room temperature.  Brown roast on grill for 25 minutes on each side.
Place roast on two layers of foil and add butter mixture, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and sesame seeds to roast.  Seal foil securely.  Place back on grill with grill cover over roast.  Cook one hour or longer for tenderness.
Slices beautifully when cooled.  Spoon sauce over sliced roast.

Potatoes Cooked on Grill
Denise Simmons
Thinly sliced potatoes
Thinly sliced Vidalia onions
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter
Spray a sheet of heavy-duty foil with Pam. Place sliced potatoes and then onions. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with butter.
Put the foil up tight and place on grill. Cook on indirect heat about 45 minutes or 30 minutes on an open flame.

Marinated Skirt Steak
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup corn oil or canola oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
4 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
Put all ingredients except steak in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the marinade over the skirt steak in a nonreactive pan.  Marinate, refrigerated, for 3 to 4 hours before grilling, but no more than 10 hours.
Heat grill. Cook steak 4 to 5 minutes per side. Slice steak thinly against the grain.

Grilled Marinated Pork Chops
6 pork chops
2 cups cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. paprika
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a glass dish, combine all ingredients except pork chops; mix well. Add pork chops. Marinate overnight or at least for 6 hours.
Remove chops from marinade. Place on grill 4 to 6 inches from coals. Cook about 20 minutes on each side or until done, turning and brushing with marinade.

Bacon Potato Salad
Moriah Earnest
8 small potatoes
1 lb. bacon
½ red onion
2 Tbsp. dill relish
3 eggs
½ cup Ranch dressing
Prepare homemade ranch dressing and refrigerate. Peel and cut potatoes; boil potatoes in water until tender. Drain water and refrigerate.
Boil eggs for 12 minutes and let cool before peeling.
Cook bacon and cut in small pieces.
Chop onion and eggs. Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Italian Pasta Salad
Carol Pridgen
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning 
1 lb. bow tie pasta 
1 cup store-bought balsamic vinaigrette dressing 
1/4 cup mayonnaise 
1 Tbsp. sugar 
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes 
4-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained 
2/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, optional 
1/2 diced green bell pepper 
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
Grated Parmesan, for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinaigrette, mayonnaise and sugar.
Drain pasta well, transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, green pepper, salt, to taste, and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese, toss lightly, and serve.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
Carol Pridgen
1 large angel food cake (store bought)
1 large Cool Whip
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
Cut cake into 3 equal sized layers. Place bottom layer of cake in trifle bowl.
Mix cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip.
Fold in strawberries. Divide mixture into thirds. Spread mixture onto bottom cake layer.
Top with next cake layer. Repeat.
Cream cheese mixture will be on top. Garnish with strawberries.

Four Layer Lemon Dessert
Brenda Goodman
lst Layer:
l ½ sticks margarine
l ½ cups self-rising flour
l ½ cups chopped pecans
Melt margarine, add flour and nuts.  Pat evenly in 9 x 13-inch dish.  Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, about l5-20 minutes.  Cool.
2nd Layer:
l2 oz. cream cheese, softened
l ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
l ½ cups Cool Whip
Mix and spread over first layer.
3rd Layer:
6 egg yolks
l ½ cups lemon juice
3 cans sweetened condensed milk
Beat egg yolks and gradually add lemon juice while continuing to beat.  Add condensed milk.  Mix and spread over second layer.
4th Layer:
Spread Cool Whip over third layer.  Sprinkle finely grated lemon peel over Cool Whip.  After grating lemon peel, dry between paper towels before using as garnish. Refrigerate several hours before slicing to serve.

Refrigerator Brown Sugar Cookies
Joanne Woodall
Good served with ice cream.
Mix together:
1 cup soft shortening (Crisco)
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
Mix in mixer for five minutes.
Sift together:
2 ¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans, optional
Add all ingredients together; mix well. Mold stiff batter into a long roll. Chill 2 to 3 hours. Slice and bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown.
To freeze: Roll dough into rolls. Wrap in wax paper and freeze. Will keep 6 months. Slice and bake when needed.

Chimichurri Sauce
Carol Duncan
This is an Argentinean sauce that is fabulous over grilled steak, chicken, fish and shrimp.
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 medium, jalapenos, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
½ cup fresh oregano, minced
2 medium limes, juiced
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Combine garlic, jalapeno and vinegar in a bowl. Stir in parsley, oregano and lime juice. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to marry. Serve over grilled meat, fish, chicken, shrimp, etc.

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms
Good sliced as a side or use instead of ground beef for a “burger.”
4-6 portabella mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine garlic and olive oil in zip-lock bag. Salt and pepper mushrooms; add to oil. Marinate one hour or longer.
Place on grill stem-side down for four minutes; turn and cook 4 minutes longer or until tender.

Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
1 ½ lb. flank steak
½ cup oil
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground ginger
Trim excess fat from steak. Score steak on both sides in 1 ½ inch squares. Place steak in shallow dish. Combine marinade ingredients; pour over steak, turning to coat. Cover. Marinate in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.
Drain steak. Grill over medium coals 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until desired doneness, basting with marinade. Discard remaining marinade.
To serve, slice steak across grain. Serves 6.

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